1. Mother Earth, "Revolution." From the great lost hippie album, the soundtrack to the movie Revolution. The movie itself isn't much … nice for archival purposes, and geezers from the Bay Area can see people like Herb Caen and Cecil Williams in the 60s. But the soundtrack, which featured the first recorded work of Mother Earth, the Steve Miller Band, and Quicksilver Messenger Service, was terrific. Quicksilver has gradually gotten their tracks onto reissues, and I think the same might be true for Mother Earth, but the Steve Miller sides never show up. I'm thinking in particular of "Your Old Lady," quite simply the most killer guitar raveup Miller has ever played in his life (on record, that is … in concert he was known to take the song even further). Mother Earth's primary singer was Tracy Nelson, a bluesy white woman who might have gotten more attention if there wasn't another, more obvious, bluesy white woman in town at the same time.
2. Big Brother & the Holding Company, "I Need a Man to Love." Speak of the devil. Not to say that Janis doesn't deserve her place atop this particular mountain, just trying to explain one reason why you might not have heard of Tracy Nelson. As long as I'm here, I might as well note that Big Brother was the best band that ever played with Janis. Don't believe those people who say otherwise.
3. The Moody Blues, "Legend of a Mind." We have definitely moved into the era when FM "Underground" radio was emergent … every song so far is an "album cut" that wouldn't get played on AM. This Moodies song is the ultimate song of the time, I suppose … Timothy Leary's dead, you know. In my (long past) cosmic days, I loved the Moody Blues. The video link is a classic … classic of what, I'm not sure.
4. Laura Nyro, "Stoned Soul Picnic." Nyro returns for a second week, once again writing songs that others turned into hits, while her album peaked at #181. It should be noted, though, that the people who DID buy Nyro's albums were fanatics about her greatness.
5. Richie Havens, "Run Shaker Life." This song sounds like it could have been written long ago, but Havens in fact co-wrote it. Or so it seemed in 1968. Later, it turned out it WAS an old song, a Shaker song, to be exact. Whatever … I'm still trying to figure out why Richie wants to shake all that carnal stuff out of himself.
6. Johnny Nash, "Hold Me Tight." Reggae-Pop in 1968? Yes, it's true. On a related note, am I the only person who remembers a teevee commercial starring the New York Jets … I feel like Emerson Boozer was one of them … where they sang a version of this song?
7. Jeannie C. Riley, "Harper Valley P.T.A." The sixties were a great decade for protest music, of course. According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, "Riley's recording became the first song by a female country artist to top both the U.S. pop and country charts. Her accomplishment would not be repeated until 1981." Barbara Eden starred in the TV version.
8. Albert King, "Blues Power." One of those abrupt transitions shuffle play is so good at. Hearing Albert King shout out "This is BLUES power" brings back a lot of memories. People think of 60s FM Underground radio as full of psychedelia and political folk music, but blues was very popular on those stations as well, and "Blues Power" was a staple, all ten minutes of it. The fact that I can still quote lyrics at will from this song is kinda scary, to be honest. "I ain't seen my main squeeze in ten long weeks today. You KNOW I got the blues. Can ya dig it?" "Wouldya believe I invented blues power?"
9. The Rolling Stones, "Stray Cat Blues." Beggars Banquet remains one of my favorite Stones albums, perhaps THE favorite. "Stray Cat Blues" verges on blues parody, and it's easy to hear it that way after 30+ years of Mick preening his way through one weak album after another. But back in the day, it was still fresh. The video link is to a performance from 2003 … somehow, the older Mick gets, the more creepy this song to a teenage hottie becomes.
10. Sam & Dave, "I Thank You." "You didn't have ta love me like you did, but you did, but you did … and I thank you!" An easy winner for Video of the Week.